Our business, financial condition, operating results and cash flows can be impacted by the factors set forth below, any one of which could cause our actual results to vary materially from recent results or from our anticipated future results.
Our future operating results and liquidity may be impacted by changes in general economic and political conditions which may affect, among other things, the following:
The future availability of credit and our ability to obtain additional bank financing, the lack of which may limit our ability to invest in capital projects and planned expansions or to fully execute our business strategy;
While general economic and political conditions have not impaired our ability to access credit markets and finance our operations to date, there can be no assurance that we will not experience future adverse effects that may be material to our cash flows, competitive position, financial condition, results of operations, or our ability to access capital.
The results of our Aerospace segment, which generated approximately 36.5% of our consolidated net sales from continuing operations in 2013, are directly tied to economic conditions in the commercial aviation and defense industries. As a result, changes in economic conditions may cause customers to request that firm orders be rescheduled or canceled, which could put a portion of our backlog at risk. Additionally, a significant amount of work that we perform under contract tends to be for a few large customers.
The commercial aviation industry tends to be cyclical, and capital spending by airlines and aircraft manufacturers may be influenced by a variety of global factors including current and future traffic levels, aircraft fuel pricing, labor issues, competition, the retirement of older aircraft, regulatory changes, terrorism and related safety concerns, general economic conditions, worldwide airline profits and backlog levels.
The defense industry is also affected by a changing global political environment, continued pressure on U.S. and global defense spending, U.S. foreign policy and the activity level of military flight operations.
Changes to the defense industry and continued pressure to reduce U.S. defense spending could have a material impact on several of our current aerospace programs, which could adversely affect our operating results. To mitigate these risks, we have worked to expand our customer and product bases within the commercial market.
Furthermore, because of the lengthy research and development cycle involved in bringing new products to market, we cannot predict the economic conditions that will exist when a new product is introduced. A reduction in capital spending in the aviation or defense industries could have a significant effect on the demand for our products, which could have an adverse effect on our financial performance or results of operations.
We have several significant long-term contracts either directly with the U.S. Government or where the U.S. Government is the ultimate customer, including the Sikorsky BLACK HAWK cockpit program, the Joint Programmable Fuze ("JPF") program, the Bell Helicopter AH-1Z program, and the Boeing C-17 and A-10 programs. These contracts are subject to unique risks, some of which are beyond our control. Examples of such risks include:
Because we derive a significant percentage of our revenue from contracts with the U.S. Government, changes in federal government budgetary priorities could directly affect our financial performance. A significant decline in government expenditures, a shift of expenditures away from programs that we support or a change in federal government contracting policies could cause federal government agencies to reduce their purchases under contracts, to exercise their right to terminate contracts at any time without penalty or not to exercise options to renew contracts.
During 2011, the federal government was unable to reach agreement on budget reduction measures required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (the "Budget Act") passed by Congress. Because Congress and the Administration could not reach agreement, the Budget Act triggered automatic reductions in both defense and discretionary spending in January 2013. While we do not believe these automatic spending reductions directly impacted our business, financial condition or operating results during 2013, the future impact of sequestration is uncertain and there can be no assurance that automatic across-the-board budget cuts will not adversely affect our business and profitability in future periods. One or more of our programs could be reduced, extended, or terminated, which could result in facility closures and personnel reductions that could significantly impact our operations.
In recent years, we have been ramping up several new programs, as more fully discussed in Item 7, Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The time required and cost incurred to ramp up a new program can be significant and includes nonrecurring costs for tooling, first article testing, finalizing drawings and engineering specifications and hiring new employees able to perform the technical work required.
New programs can typically involve a greater volume of scrap, higher costs due to inefficiencies, delays in production, and learning curves that are often more extended than anticipated, all of which can impact operating results. We have been working with our customers and leveraging our years of experience to effectively ramp up these new programs.
The aerospace markets in which we participate are highly competitive, and we often compete for work not only with large Original Equipment Manufacturers ("OEMs") but also sometimes with our own customers and suppliers. Many of our large customers may choose not to outsource production due to, among other things, their own direct labor and overhead considerations and capacity utilization at their own facilities. This could result in these customers supplying their own products or services and competing directly with us for sales of these products or services, all of which could significantly reduce our revenues.
Our competitors may have more extensive or more specialized engineering, manufacturing and marketing capabilities than we do in some areas and we may not have the technology, cost structure, or available resources to effectively compete with them. We believe that developing and maintaining a competitive advantage requires continued investment in product development, engineering, supply chain management and sales and marketing, and we may not have enough resources to make the necessary investments to do so. Further, our significant customers have in the past used, and may attempt in the future to use, their position to negotiate a reduction in price of a particular product regardless of the terms of an existing contract.
We believe our strategies for our Aerospace segment will allow us to continue to effectively compete for key contracts and customers, but there can be no assurance that we will be able to compete successfully in this market or against such competitors.